§ VISCOUNT TURNOUR (Sussex, Horsham)
To ask the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to a court martial held at Cape Town in May last on Sergeant (now-Private) Pitt, of the Army Service Corps, for applying to his own use the sum of £33 13s. during the period he was caterer of the garrison sergeants' mess, and for negligently conducting the sales of the said mess; whether he is aware that Pitt was acquitted on the first charge, but found guilty on the second, and sentenced to reduction to the rank of private and stoppage of pay to the amount of £33 13s.; whether he is aware that the appointment of Pitt as caterer when in performance of other duties which necessitated his absence from the mess and canteen for the greater part of the day was a breach of regulations; and whether, having regard to this fact, and to the fact that Pitt has a wife and two children to support to whom the stoppage from his pay of £33 is a serious matter, he will reconsider the case.
(Answered by Mr. Secretary Haldane.) The facts as regards the trial of Sergeant (now Private) Pitt are as stated. In a garrison sergeants' mess, all the members are employed on some special duty, so it is not always possible to relieve the caterer from other duties. Sergeant Pitt was clerk in the office of the staff captain, naval base, and his duties occupied only about four hours a day, so that he had ample time for his duties us caterer. The proceedings of the court martial have been carefully reviewed by the Judge Advocate General, and I see no reason for relieving Private Pitt from the consequences of his acts.